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Artisan ends talks to turn ‘Wong’ into video

Cyberbiz Brief

“Mr. Wong” won’t be making his way off the Web after all. At least not through Artisan Entertainment.

Negotiations between Artisan and Icebox.com that would have turned controversial Webtoon “Wong” into a direct-to-video feature have been scuttled, according to sources close to the deal.

Last month Artisan prexy Bill Block said at an Internet confab that the studio was in preliminary talks to create the homevid. Co-written by “South Park” scribes Pam Brady and Kyle McCulloch, Mr. Wong is an elderly Asian houseboy who speaks in pidgin English as he revels in his rude behavior to Pam, his WASPy employer.

The character has caused divisions in the Asian-American community, with some taking a guilty pleasure in Mr. Wong’s antics but many others condemning the racial stereotype they believe the Webisodes reinforce. The Media Action Network for Asian Americans and the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition both urged members to contact Artisan to register their disapproval.

An Artisan spokesman said — protests aside — that “Mr. Wong” simply wound up not meeting the studio’s criteria for acquisition. But the end of talks with Artisan may not be the end of Mr. Wong’s dealings with the studios.

“Although discussions with Artisan have been terminated, we are in discussions with a number of other studios for international and domestic distribution to make “Mr. Wong” a feature film or direct-to-video project,” said an Icebox spokeswoman.

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